ETHICS: Is the possible Government Shutdown Ethical?

I receive a call today asking what appeared to be a simple question:  If the politicians in Washington can’t agree on a budget or budget cuts, are their actions ethical assuming the government is shutdown?

Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

As I pondered the question I noticed an interesting blog about the possible Government Shutdown on CNN by an NPR blogger.  Here are some of Ruben Navarrette Jr.comments:

All the media and the politicians can talk about is the possibility that the federal government could shut down at the end of this week if a budget agreement isn’t struck, and who will get the blame if it does.

A poll by the Pew Research Center suggests the parties will share the blame almost evenly. Thirty-nine percent of people would blame Republicans. Thirty-six percent would blame Democrats. Sixteen percent would blame both parties.

You want drama? The United States cannot pay its bills, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the deeper the hole will get and the more difficult it will be to climb out of it. We have a generational war brewing as baby boomers, generation Xers and millennials who are working get stuck with the tab for a federal debt that exceeds $14 trillion and have to plan for a future that might not include Medicare and Social Security, while current retirees are guaranteed benefits. And a financial calamity is almost certainly in the cards, as more and more baby boomers start retiring, unless a deficit-cutting deal is reached.

His full comments are here.


The only ETHICAL thing to do is solve the problem.  It seems that few in Washington who have been elected to represent us are willing to do that – solve the problem.  Navarrette says,

That’s what passes for leadership in Washington these days, not making progress on tough issues but making your team look good and the other look bad.

You see it in the talk of a government shutdown. Both sides claim not to want it to happen, but neither side is doing much to prevent it. Instead, all their energies are spent in trying to convince voters that they’re not to blame for it.

Here’s the real reason that professional politicians should do whatever they can to avoid a shutdown: After a few days of living without government, many Americans might just decide they don’t really miss it and could live with a lot less of it.

There are two glaring issues: (1) We owe too much!  We are a debtor nation and that isn’t right or fair or ethical to leave for our children.  (2) We just might find out that we don’t miss the things that are “shut down” – perhaps we can live without them.  Perhaps we’ll soon find that our lives are not substantially affected.

So…if it takes a Government shut down to prove two points then SHUT ‘ER DOWN.


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